Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking - The Easy Way!

Christmas is over for another year and if you're like me you have a lot of digital photos lurking in your camera/phone.  Over the next few posts we are going to liberate them.  Digital scrapbooking has several things to recommend it over paper scrapbooking primarily the cost.  I can buy an entire digital scrapbooking kit for less than $10.  Try doing that in the craft store! And unlike paper I can use my digital supplies over and over again. With most photos taken these days being digital ones, digital scrapping just makes sense.

So what do I need to become a digital scrapper?
1.  A computer.  Duh.
2.  Software- For these tutorials you will need PowerPoint (PC) or Keynote (Mac).  If you don't already have one of these don't go out and buy them (unless you just want to!).  Go to and download a program called Impress for FREE!  All three of these programs are designed to create digital presentations but are also perfect for quick and easy scrapbook creation.   Many scrappers use Photoshop / Photoshop Elements or some other image editing software.  I have used PSE for several years but it is fairly expensive, there is quite a learning curve and I still sometimes get frustrated with it.  The method I'm going show you is much easier.
3. Digital supplies-  The digital background papers and decorative embellishments are usually sold as a "kit".
 Most websites that sell such supplies have some sort of "freebie" you can download without cost.  Just go to one of the links below and download one to practice with.The "papers" are usually .jpg files (just like your photos).  The rest of your supplies will be .png or .psd files which are native to Photoshop.  Don't worry, you will still be able to use them without Photoshop on your computer.

Now go get your supplies together and we'll start scrapping!

NEXT: Downloading and organizing your kits

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Family Tree as Christmas Tree

Gavin Jackson Armstrong    26 Dec 2009
Tate Allen Armstrong        21 Dec 2011 
Our family tree is becoming a Christmas tree!  Meet the newest leaf Tate!  Tate was born 3 days ago, a healthy 7 lbs. 12 oz. He joins his cousin Gavin who was born the day after Christmas 2 years ago.  I am a very blessed grandmother.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Genealogy and Backward Compatibility

 I "unplugged" a bit last weekend and logged on Sunday night to find the genealogy community in an uproar! I'm a little late to the party but for what its worth here is my take on the whole thing.
(I'll say up front that I am an Official Rootstech Blogger and received a free registration to the conference. I did not, however, receive a gag.)
So here is what I think is going on.  There are really two issues.  The first one was brought up by Thomas MacEntee in one of his excellents posts on this subject.  There is a raw nerve running through this country right now...the perception that the ordinary American is getting screwed over and losing control over things that are important to him.  Touch this nerve at your peril as several companies have discovered, Netflix being a prime example. When a company (or a conference) are perceived to have arbitrarily handed down an edict from on high...well let's just say there can be a signficant blow-back.

The second issue here is the changing roles of "old" technology..i.e. books and print versus "new" technology.  And this debate isn't restricted to genealogy...all forms of print media are being challenged. People are asking "why do we need libraries/books now that we have the internet and computers and e-readers?"  The generation that is now coming into it's own, politically and career-wise have spent their whole lives adapting to rapidly changing technology.  It's what they know. The problem comes in when people assume that level of expertise is the norm for everyone.  Many of the people using  libraries these days are either low-income or elderly.  The lower income folks want to be connected to technology but cannot afford computers or internet service.  They go to the library to use the public computers instead.   The older folks have a different issue.  They don't understand technology and have massive doubts about their ability to learn the skills they are increasingly being forced to use. I don't know the percentage of the American population these last two groups represent but I'd guess that its considerable.  Add in the immigrants with language barriers and those of us that are digitally "connected" start looking the minority!  In spite of that, governments and companies are completely abandoning traditional methods of communication for digital methods.  For example,  a couple of years ago the state of Oklahoma decided they would no longer provide paper income tax forms.  This was not a big deal to those of us who file online anyway.  But for the aforementioned groups this has been a huge problem especially for the elderly.  Again I think there is that assumption that its easy for everyone to operate in the digital world when it is really only easy for the person or entity making the decision to do so. 
There is a great divide in our society.  Not between social classes but between folks who have the expertise and resources to access technology and folks who don't.  Those of us..genealogists included...who make use of the digital world have an obligation to reach out to people who, for whatever reason, can not.  At the very least we should not take away the tools they do have!  How unfair! 

If computer manufacturers can put floppy drives on computers for 20 years after they have become obsolete we can surely have some backwards compatibility where people are concerned.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Our Photos!

Photo by Woody H1

So there's been a bit of radio silence on ye olde blog the last couple of weeks.  I like to tell myself that I'm taking a short break now that my Family Tree Firsts gig is up and hey, its the holidays and oh yeah I'm busy knitting for a new grandson that will be appearing in about a week. All of which are true. But the fact is that without the accountability of an actual editor waiting for my next post I tend to get a little lazy lax. Dorothy Parker was famously quoted saying that she did not like to write but loved having written to which I can only say "Amen!".
Therefore I have figured out a way to kick my own butt. Write a series!

Soon I will begin a series of posts on how to rescue all those digital photos lurking in  your computer.  If you are like me you have tons of digital photos being held hostage in your PC.  The upcoming festivities will surely add to that number.  And that's not even counting all the heritage images languishing on my hard drive!  So I'm starting a campaign... forget Occupy Wall Street...let's Free Our Photos! 
I have found a fast, easy and above all cheap way to get them out of digital never-never land and into the hands of your family.  In addition, I will be reviewing some of the photo publishing options currently available online.  Stay tuned!
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